In Indiana, juvenile cases are not automatically expunged when you turn 18. You have to ask the court to expunge your records. There are two ways to do this. You can ask to have your records sealed or you can ask to have them permanently destroyed. Sealed records cannot be looked at by the public but are still kept by the court. Destroyed records no longer exist and that means no one can ever see them. Having your records destroyed is better than having them sealed. But sometimes a judge will not agree to destroy your records. Even if this happens, some of your records may still be sealed. The information below will tell you more about each option.
Some juvenile records can be sealed. If you did not end up with an adjudication after an arrest or juvenile court case, you can get the records sealed. This includes an arrest where you didn’t have to go to court, an informal adjustment or diversion, a case that went to court but was dismissed, and a case where you had a trial and won. You have to wait one year before you can ask for the records to be sealed. If you did get an adjudication the records for that case cannot be sealed. If you were on probation that probably means you had an adjudication.
You have to ask for the records to be expunged. You can go to the court clerk's office where the charges were filed and ask for an expungement form or you can access the Indiana Expungement Request Form here. After you fill out the form you will give it to the court clerk. If you do not know the information asked for in the form, simply fill out what information you do know and turn in the form. You do not have to pay money to ask for an expungement.
You give this petition to the clerk at the courthouse. You do not have to pay money to get your records sealed. If your petition meets all of the requirements of the law, the judge has to seal your records.
All juvenile records can be destroyed if a judge allows them to be. This includes cases where you were put on probation or even sent to the Department of Correction. You have to ask for the records to be expunged. You can go to the court clerk's office where the charges were filed and ask for an expungement form. Some counties have the expungement form online. You can check your county clerk's office website to see if there is a form. After you fill out the form you will give it to the court clerk. You do not have to pay money to ask for an expungement.
Your request for an expungement will go to the juvenile court judge. The judge will review your request. Sometimes the judge will want you to come to court to talk about why your request should be granted. If you get a letter in the mail telling you to come to court, make sure that you go to the hearing. If you do not go, your request will probably be denied.
When the judge reviews your request for expungement the judge will consider a lot of things. This might include:
- What kind of juvenile cases you had
- What happened in those cases
- How you have been doing since you were last in juvenile court
- If you have ever been charged in adult court
- What you are doing in your life now
- Why you want your juvenile records expunged
If you have a court hearing, you should bring things with you that will help the judge see how well you are doing. This can include:.
- Letters of recommendation from employers, teachers, neighbors, religious leaders, or even friends
- Class schedules
- Report Cards
- Documents proving you have a job, like your pay stub
- Documents showing you are responsible for things like paying your rent
- Letters of acceptance
- Any other document that shows you are doing good things with your life
- Friends and relatives that can tell the judge how good you are doing
If the judge decides not to expunge your juvenile records you can ask again later. There is no limit on how many times you can ask for this. But it is best to wait a little while so you can show the judge the next time how much better you are doing.
You can read the law that allows you to have your records destroyed here.